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in the Spirituality 

of Jesuits 


Eliciting Great Desires: 

Their Place in the Spirituality 

of the Society of Jesus 

E. Edward Rinerk. S.J. 



! RY 

Published by the American Assistancy Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality, 
especially for American Jesuits working out their aggiornamento 

in the spirit of Vatican Council II 

Vol. XVI November, 1984 No. 5 


consists of a group of Jesuits from various provinces who are listed below. 
The members were appointed by the Fathers Provincial of the United States. 

The Purpose of the Seminar is to study topics pertaining to the spiritual 
doctrine and practice of Jesuits, especially American Jesuits, and to communi- 
cate the results to the members of the Assistancy. The hope is that this will 
lead to further discussion among all American Jesuits — in private, or in small 
groups, or in community meetings. All this is done in the spirit of Vatican 
Council II 's recommendation to religious institutes to recapture the original 
charismatic inspiration of their founders and to adapt it to the changed cir- 
cumstances of modern times. The members of the Seminar welcome reactions or 
comments in regard to the topics they publish. 

To achieve these purposes, especially amid today's pluralistic cultures, 
the Seminar must focus its direct attention sharply, frankly, and specifically 
on the problems, interests, and opportunities of the Jesuits of the United 
States. However, manay of these interests are common also to Jesuits of other 
regions, or to other priests, religious men or women, or to lay men or women. 
Hence the Studies of the Seminar, while meant especially for American Jesuits, 
are not exclusively for them. Others who may find them helpful are cordially 
welcome to read them. 


Charles J. Beirne, S.J., College of Business Administration, Georgetown 

University, Washington, D.C., 20057. 202-625-0100 
Gregory I. Carlson, S.J., Marquette Jesuit Residence, 1404 West Wisconsin 

Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233. 414-344-7900 
Philip C. Fischer, S.J., Secretary of the Seminar, Fusz Memorial, 3700 West 

Pine Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri 63108. 314-652-3700 
George E. Ganss, S.J., Chairman of the Assistancy Seminar and Editor of its 

Studies . His address: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, Fusz 

Memorial, 3700 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108. 314-652-5737. 
Donald L. Gelpi, S.J., Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 LeRoy Avenue, 

Berkeley, California 94709. 415-841-8804. 
E. Edward Kinerk, S.J., Jesuit Novitiate, 1901 Eudora Street, Denver, Colorado 

80220. 303-320-6297 
Brian 0. McDermott, S.J., Weston Jesuit Community, 20 Sumner Road, Cambridge, 

Massachusetts 02138. 617-547-3742 
Leo J. 0'Donovan, S.J., Weston School of Theology, 3 Phillips Place, 

Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138. 617-547-3742 
William C. Spohn, S.J., Jesuit School of Theology, 1735 LeRoy Avenue, 

Berkeley, California 94709. 415-841-9121 
John M. Staudenmaier, S.J., University of Detroit, 4001 McNichols Road, 

Detroit, Michigan 48221. 617-927-1000 
L. John Topel, S.J. Jesuit Novitiate, 3301 S. E. 45th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 

97206. 503-774-5699 

© Copyright, 1984, by The American Assistancy Seminar, St. Louis, Missouri. 


in the Spirituality 

of Jesuits 

Eliciting Great Desires: 
Their Place in the Spirituality 
^1582^^ of the Society of Jesus 

>/ Y 

f/ilP E. Edward kinerk. S.J. 

Published by the American Assistancy Seminar on Jesuit Spirituality, 
especially for American Jesuits working out their aggiornamento 

in the spirit of Vatican Council II 

Vol. XVI November, 1984 No. 5 


Introduction 1 

A. Desire 1 

B. Definitions and Presuppositions 2 


A. A Man of Desires 5 

B. Three Special Desires 7 

C. Desire and Maturity 9 


A. Discovering the Thread of Desire 9 

B. Imagination 10 

C. Mortification 13 


A. Desire to Be a Jesuit . 16 

B. Desire for the Cross 16 

C. Desire to Help Souls 16 

D. Desire and Obedience 18 

Reflections 20 

Footnotes 25 




Their Place in the Spirituality of the Society of Jesus 


E. Edward Kinerk, S.J. 
Jesuit Novitiate 
1901 Eudora Street 
Denver, Colorado 80220 


One of the paradoxes of the group of early Jesuits was that Ignatius 
attracted to his company men like Pierre Favre and Jeronimo Nadal. A Francis 
Xavier we would expect: he and Ignatius came from the same fiery soil. But 
Favre and Nadal were timid men, often depressed, and bothered by self- 
doubts--hardly promising material for the spiritual and apostolic rigors 
of the Society. Nonetheless, Ignatius saw beyond their fears, and he un- 
covered in them intense desires to follow Jesus Christ and give service in 
His name. We know the rest: Nadal is considered our greatest source for 
understanding the mind of Ignatius, and we honor Favre as a "blessed" of the 
Church . 

It was the genius of Ignatius ordinarily to win his men to his viewpoints, 
rather than to impose on them or the Society a particular way of responding 
to the gospel. He went to great pains to draw the best out of his men by 
helping them to discover for themselves what they most deeply desired; and 
he always assumed that the most effective and energetic Jesuits would be 
those who could generate their own zeal. In fact, he did not want any other 
kind around, since the far-flung and ambitious mission of the Society demanded 
men whose energy and apostolic desires would in turn be sources of animation 
for others. 

A. Desire 

Desire is an enormously complex word. In spirituality we talk about 
"holy" desires, desires which orient a person towards God and which are 
considered, therefore, to be graces from him. In competitive athletics we 
hear men and women speak about that spark of desire which transforms a mediocre 
team or performer into a champion. In our schools we promote the desire for 

excellence, which in its most positive rendering indicates a desire to 
develop one's talents to the fullest in order to place them at the service 
of others. We also speak of desires for love, for companionship, for meaning; 
and we know, too, the strength behind our sexual desires as well as our 
desires for food, drink, and the like. 

Desires are powerful. A particular desire might be weak, or we might 
be timid in carrying it out, but there is nothing passive or emasculated 
about the word itself. Desires give powerful and energetic orientations to 
the psyche. Catherine of Siena, by no means a shy and retiring type, began 
her Dialogue by describing herself as "restless with tremendous desire for 
God's honor and the salvation of souls." Such is the power of our desires, 

Catherine declared, that they are one of the few ways of touching God because 

"you have nothing infinite except your soul's love and desire." 

Desires are passions and from this they derive their strength. Even 
"holy" desires tap into an energy which is at least partially physical, and 
if a man or woman is called a person of great desires--as all saints are-- 
we do not expect a bloodless, unfeeling soul but someone who is great-hearted 
with a depth of human compassion. Of course, power may also prove dangerous, 
and strong desires always hint of risk. They can be ravenous and compulsive: 
some enslave us and others dissipate our energies by pulling our hearts in 
opposite directions. 

Our desires generate power, physical energy, and often peril, but they 
also galvanize our spirituality and our mission as Jesuits. If we hesitate 
too much, if we are timid about our stronger desires for God and his service, 
we will have failed to utilize the greatest source of human vitality and 
passion which God has given us. Likewise, if we vacillate because of an 
unwillingness to let go of desires which conflict with our mission and voca- 
tion, we will endlessly burn away our limited energies in needless frustration, 
In either case we rob ourselves of the wholesome happiness which God intends 
for his servants and which Ignatius envisioned for his companions. This 
essay is about desire in Jesuit spirituality and about the power latent in 
our desires to make us happy apostolic men. 

B. Definitions and Presuppositions 

At the risk of freighting the essay with useless technicalities, perhaps 
some clarifications in the beginning will avoid confusion later on. Webster's 

complete definition looks best in a footnote, but streamlined it says that 

a desire is an inclination toward some object accompanied by a "positive 

affect. The quality of a desire is determined by the object whereas its 

intensity comes from the affect. This is all quite consistent with Ignatius' 

use of the term some five hundred years ago, although he was hardly one for 


Fears can be thought of as desires with a negative pole. While the 
essay is primarily concerned with desires, much of what will be said about 
the effects of conflicting desires applies equally to fears. Thus a person 
could be paralyzed by desiring options which are mutually exclusive, or by 
desiring an object and fearing it at the same time, or by fearing two options 
when one of them must be chosen. 

I have four overlapping presuppositions about desires. It would require 
a book to explain them fully, but I offer them in their present baldness as 
one possible framework for speaking about desires in the spiritual life. 

First: All desires are real experiences, but not all desires are equally 

authentic. For example, a Jesuit who has been hurt by another might experience 

both a desire for revenge and a desire to forgive, but he would probably regard 

the desire to forgive as more authentic. He would say that the desire to 

forgive springs from a more profound level of himself: "I feel more truly 

myself when I imagine myself forgiving, and I experience alienation from 

myself when I harbor the desire for revenge. The desire to forgive is more 

authentic because it more accurately expresses what the Jesuit really wants, 

even though the desire for revenge might be more intense. In the language 

of Thomas Merton, authentic desires come from our "true selves" instead of 

our superficial "false selves." In the language of Ignatius, authentic 

desires come from- -or at least are supported by- -the action of the good 

• :* 5 


Second: Our authentic desires are vocational. The question "Who am I?" 
can never be answered directly. Only by asking the further question "What 
do I want?" do we begin to approach the nature of our unique vocations in 
life. The more honestly we seek to identify authentic desires, the more 
these desires will reveal what we really want and who we really are. Jesuit 
vocation directors place great emphasis on a candidate's desire to become 
a Jesuit, because probing this desire will reveal the heart of the man. Someone 
may want to be a Jesuit because he went to a Jesuit school and liked his 

teachers, because he wants to belong to a group committed to justice, or be- 
cause he experiences deep peace whenever he imagines himself in the Society. 
These and a thousand other factors—some only dimly known, if at all--inf luence 
and shape desires; and these factors are necessary, for desires can take form 
only in the soil of our environments and personal histories. The task of 
both examiners and candidate is to see if the man's desire to be a Jesuit is 
also rooted in freedom. 

Third: The more authentic our desires, the more they move us to glorify 
God. Every human being experiences in some measure a restless longing for 
God, and we believe that whenever we sincerely respond to this desire we are 
also responding to God's grace. Our most authentic desires ultimately spring 
from this level of ourselves. They are not always expressed in explicitly 
religious language, but they always take a form which rejects self-centered- 
ness in favor of self-donation to God and to others. At this level the 
distinction between "what I desire" and "what desires God gives me" begins 
to blur. The more profoundly we reach into ourselves, the more we experience 
desires which are uniquely our own but also God-given. 

Fourth: Authentic desires are always in some way public. This is a 
paradox, for certainly our desires reflect what is most uniquely personal 
in ourselves, but at the same time the more deeply we go into ourselves the 
more these uniquely personal desires manifest a communal reference point 
instead of an individual one. Superficial desires--such as those linked 
to consumerism- -demonstrate all too graphically our cultural narcissism, but 
more authentic desires always lead us out of ourselves and into the human 
community. When desires to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to use 
our gifts for the service of others become more compelling than private con- 
cerns, we will know that we have matured spiritually. 

A final technical point regards Ignatius' own vocabulary. In the 
sources used for this study, Ignatius always used the Spanish word deseo. 
Not only does this hold true for sources which we know came from his own 
hand, such as the earlier letters and text "a" of the General Examen 3 but 
we also find the same Spanish word in the Autobiography (Camara's choice) 
and the later letters (Polanco's choice). The single exception is the final 
occurrence of the word in the Autobiography , where Camara changed to Italian 
and used desiderio* 

This essay has four sections. The first will review desire in the life 

of Ignatius. The second will outline Ignatius' "methods" for evoking and 
harnessing the energies of desire in the lives of others, his "schooling" 
of desires. The third section will examine the desires which Ignatius 
considered essential in a Jesuit, and in the fourth section I will offer 
some concluding reflections on the place of desire in our Jesuit lives today. 


A. A Man of Desires 

Nadal once said that God chose Ignatius to found the Society of Jesus, 
not because of any intrinsic merit or goodness on his part, but "because 

of his character, a man of great energy, magnanimous, who in battle never 

admitted defeat." It would be hard to find a better description of the man. 

By nature he reacted quickly to the stirrings of his own intense desires; 

he was undaunted by difficulties, ever ready to expend himself totally. For 

the first thirty years of his life he gladly sacrificed everything- -including 

a prudent concern for his own and others' safety at Pamplona and a piece of 

his leg at Loyola--to his "great and vain desire to win fame." When God 

finally called this willing but unenlightened knight into his service, it 

was not so much through a remorse for past sins but through the stimulus 

of a desire even more powerful than the desire for honor. Lying in bed in 

his brother's castle he noticed that he wanted to do what Francis and Dominic 

had done even more than he wanted to perform great feats in the service of 

noble ladies. 

Ignatius told the Jesuits at Ferrara to "endeavor to conceive great 

resolves and elicit equally great desires." This line comes straight out 

of his own life, for no desire for the praise and honor of God our Lord was 

too difficult or too great for him. When he discovered in himself a desire 

to imitate the saints, he gave no thought to the consequences but resolved 

to go to Jerusalem and perform great penances. When he noticed the desire 

to work for the salvation of souls, he did not shy away from the thought 

because of the years of study which it implied, but he set out steadfastly 

on the humbling and arduous path which led him from Barcelona to Alcala to 

Paris, a journey which consumed some ten years in the life of a man who was 

nearly thirty-five when he began. When he imagined Christ our Lord on the 

cross, his deepest desire was to imitate him in poverty, in bearing all manner 
of insults and wrongs, and to share with him in leading souls to the Father, 

"Desire," as a noun, appears eighteen times in the Autobiography. 
Except for the initial desire to win fame and a reference to the absence of 
a desire to eat meat, it always indicated some affective stirring to do a 
"holy" deed. Since Ignatius told his life's story to Luis Goncalves da Camara 
only that his fellow Jesuits might have some understanding of how God had led 
their founder, we can take the frequent occurrence of the word as solid 
evidence that he attached great significance to his desires. He may not 
always have been in a position to carry them out, but he always took them 
seriously, often at considerable cost to himself. In the final appearance 
of the word in the Autobiography > Ignatius told how he had felt the desire 
to go, barefoot and fasting, to visit a former companion who now lay sick 
some three days' journey from Paris. A more cautious spirit might well have 
reasoned that it would have been pointless to try to bring solace to a sick 
man if one placed his own health in jeopardy. Indeed, these thoughts and 
a good deal of fear did strike Ignatius when he set out the next morning 
on his mission of mercy. He tells us that he could scarcely make himself 
get dressed, yet characteristically he went ahead, and after only a few hours 
of walking the resistance lifted and he continued on his way in great con- 

One reason why Ignatius took his desires seriously was that he considered 

them to be graces from God. In several places in the Autobiography he tells 

us through Camara that "a desire came to him," as if to indicate that, 

far from being a matter of willfulness on his part, these movements seemed 
to have originated from without. He chided Teresa Rejadell for not acknow- 
ledging more directly and boldly that "your desires of serving Christ our 

Lord are not your own, but come to you from our Lord." Similarly, he 

told Jacqueline de Croy that God "knows what desires of the salvation and 

progress of souls he has given to me." 

Not all desires in Ignatius met with immediate and unfailing execution. 

He desired at one time to become a Carthusian, but he did not. He desired 

to enter a corrupt religious community so as to reform it and suffer much 

in the process, but he did not. He desired to spend the rest of his life 

in Jerusalem, but he died in Rome. Ignatius desired intensely but not blindly: 

his spirituality was both experiential and experimental. He once encouraged 

Francis Borgia to try different approaches to the spiritual life, for "we 
will learn by making trial of many methods, so that we may advance along 
the way that stands out clearest, which will be for us the happiest." 
Ignatius carefully examined his desires, discarding some and discovering 
new ones, always seeking to invest himself in those desires which he ex- 
perienced as most authentic. 

B. Three Special Desires 

Three desires, or perhaps categories of desires, initiated major orienta- 
tions in Ignatius' life and provided vocational touchstones to which he would 
return time and time again. The first appears in the early pages of the Auto- 
biography in the form of those "holy" desires which overturned his worldly 
desire to win fame and honor. He variously referred to them as "the desire 

to imitate the saints," "a very great desire to serve our Lord," and "great 

desires to serve [Christ] in every way he knew." Elsewhere Ignatius called 

1 8 
these general impulses the "desire for perfection," a desire he constantly 

urged Jesuits—particularly those experiencing tepidity --to maintain in 

themselves by every means possible. In varying degrees Ignatius expected 

to find this desire for perfection in every good man or woman, or every good 

knight; it is the desire of persons "who go on earnestly striving to cleanse 

their souls from sin and who seek to rise in the service of God our Lord to 

greater perfection." Today we might call this an experience of desiring 

to live more fully in God's grace, without any special thought to the 

particular means. 

Many other desires from the early part of his life were but ways of 

putting the desire for perfection into action. Such, for example, were his 

desire to be a Carthusian and also his desire to perform great penances, 

which even in the maturity of his later years he still considered to be the 

natural response of a generous albeit imprudent soul. Most important was 

his desire to go to Jerusalem, a desire only partially realized, which sym- 
bolized his deep affection for the person of Christ and which stamped him 
forever as "the pilgrim." 

The second key desire in the life of Ignatius was his genuine wish to 

be able to share in the poverty, insults, and humiliations of Christ for "so 

Christ was treated before me." In 1545 Ignatius wrote John III of Portugal 

about the skirmishes he had had with the Inquisition during his student years. 

Proclaiming his innocence of those former charges, he nonetheless professed 

that nothing could ever make him regret the suffering he had endured then 

for the sake of Christ. This long-standing desire, which he called the 

"third degree of humility," probably dates to a time very close to his con- 
version. It may well have been present in rudimentary form prior to his 
arrival at Manresa, but it certainly had matured into conscious reflection 
by the time he departed for Jerusalem. 

Ignatius realized that not all good Christians shared this desire, and 

he made allowances for human weaknesses. In his own life, however, this 

particular desire represented not only a very close assimilation to the life 
of Christ but also the source of his great freedom and courage. It was dif- 
ficult to frighten a man who could so quickly turn his natural fears into 
sources of identification with the person he loved. Actions speak louder 

than words, but for a man who risked his life to see which way Christ's 

footprint was turned, and who walked through war zones failing to pay 

proper respect to military captains, we do well to believe him when he 

wrote: "It is my desire to have as much and ever more to suffer in the 

future for the greater glory of His Divine Majesty." 

Finally, Ignatius desired to help souls. Nadal places the birth of 

this desire at the time of Manresa, specifically when Ignatius was making 

the meditations we now associate with the Second Week of the Spiritual Ex- 

ercises. In any case, it took longer for this desire to mature. Perhaps 

only when Ignatius decided against entering a corrupt monastery and chose 

instead to go to Paris did it solidify into a complete orientation for his 

life. Whenever it matured, it became the dominant desire in Ignatius' life. 

In 1536 he wrote Teresa Rejadell, "It is many years now since His Divine 

Majesty . . has given me the desire to give as much pleasure as I can to 

those men and women who walk in the way of His will." ' A letter to his 

fellow Basques in Aspeitia tells how his desires to help souls had brought 

him from Paris to their own city some five years earlier. Now confined 

by his office to Rome, but still desirous of their good, he added, "The 

thought has occurred to me that I might accomplish my desires in some other 

way as my absence is now unavoidable." We might recall here as well the 

letter to Jacqueline de Croy cited above: "[God] knows what desires of 

the salvation and progress of souls he has given to me." 

C. Desire and Maturity 

Near the end of his life and in poor health, Ignatius had been instructed 
by his doctor to avoid depressing thoughts. He replied that only if the pope 
were to abolish the Society would he be sad; but he quickly added that even 

if this should happen, "I think that if I recollected myself in prayer for 

a quarter of an hour, I would be happy, and even happier than before." 

Regardless of the fact that Ignatius may have required several minutes 

to compose himself after the news of the election of Gian Pietro Carafa as 

Pope Paul IV, this is still a remarkable claim. Everything in his life had 

led up to the foundation of the Society; how much energy and desire this man 

had poured into the promotion of the service of God and the help of souls 

through its instrumentality! Matured over the years through much prayer, 

experience, and self-discipline, Ignatius was no less the man of desires now 

than he had been at Loyola. His confidence before this hypothetical situation 

came from the conviction, based on experience, that whatever was authentic 

in his desires for the Society, whatever was from God, would never be lost, 

even though it might undergo radical purification. If God gave Ignatius the 

desire to found the Society of Jesus, Ignatius became the founder, heart and 

soul. If it should happen that the Society was no longer to be, then Ignatius 

could--with the help of a few minutes alone--reach deeply into himself to 

channel his desires and the energy they generated into other means for God's 

service. And he truly expected that such a turn of events would eventually 

make him even happier than before! 


A. Discovering the Thread of Desire 

Ribadeneira tells a story to warm the heart of any novice director. In 
the time of Ignatius, there was a novice from Germany who was distressed and 
thinking about leaving. After trying everything else Ignatius "asked him to 
wait for three or four days, and during that time he was not obliged to keep 
the rules or to obey anyone." Ignatius told him that he should do whatever 
he pleased: he was to sleep as late as he liked and eat whenever he wanted. 

"The novice, with this freedom and gentle treatment, was so dumbfounded that 

he remained in the Society." 


Ignatius never tried to keep someone in the Society who really did not 
want to be there. If anything he was prejudiced in favor of sending people 
away and against manipulating them into staying. However, in this instance, 
the wise spiritual director sensed that the genuine desires of the novice 
were being temporarily obscured by the irritations of the daily order. "Let 
us not make these the issue," Ignatius seemed to be saying, "but for a time 
let the novice do exactly what he wants, and he will probably discover what 
he wants." It worked. 

From his own experience Ignatius knew that authentic desires are avenues 
into our souls, and he knew, too, that the initial unlocking of such desires 
demanded extraordinary tact and patience. Often he used to sit quietly during 
a dinner conversation taking to heart all that was said, and when the moment 

was ripe he capitalized on what he had heard to turn the thoughts of his 

table companions to God's service. Without some inviting spark of desire 

on the part of others Ignatius could do little to foster the greater spiritual 

progress which so interested him. In the case of the German novice, Ignatius 

circumspectly let him return to himself for a while, without the distracting 

interference of the daily order, so that he might rediscover his original 

desire. Then the primary work of the novitiate--the development of this 

desire into a strong permanent commitment- -could continue. 

Even though Ignatius always exhibited the greatest respect for and 

sensitivity to the desires which God gave to others, he was also a master at 

suggesting means by which such desires could grow stronger and become more 

sharply defined. Not everyone possessed his great natural courage and 

magnanimity, but even some very timid spirits --among them a number of effective 

Jesuits--were drawn under his tutelage to "conceive great resolves and elicit 

equally great desires." The Spiritual Exercises offered the normal context, 

but the more specific instruments were imagination and mortification. 

B. Imagination 

William Lynch calls imagination one of the three essential elements of 

hope. We cannot hope if we cannot imagine possibilities. The seriously 

depressed often need another human being to supply to their deadened imagina- 
tions some images of what is possible; we call this person the therapist. 
Analogously, in the spiritual life Ignatius led men and women to greater 
spiritual progress by touching their imaginations. He stimulated their 


desires by suggesting to them images of what they might hope for from God, 
even of the desires they might entertain. 

In this age of personalism, one of the more startling aspects of the 
Spiritual Exercises is the final prelude to each meditation. Here Ignatius 

tells the retreatant the particular grace which should be asked for, "that 

which I want and desire." How, one might well ask, can I ask for something 

that I may not really want? Should my desires not be more spontaneous and 

above all personal? Should I not be asking for what I want and desire instead 

of for what Ignatius tells me to want and desire? 

One reply to this objection is that these preludes are so general that 
anyone making the Exercises would naturally want and desire what Ignatius 
suggests. This reply sounds plausible enough- -until we note that Ignatius 
has already suggested a more or less generic desire in the preparatory 
prayer. Furthermore, arguing from experience I might add that many generous 
and well-meaning retreatants often find that their desires simply do not 
coincide with what Ignatius proposes at a particular moment in the retreat. 

A more satisfying answer is that Ignatius is not mandating desires but 
eliciting them, and he does this by interesting the retreatant f s imagination. 
Imagine yourself before Christ on the cross and ask yourself what you want to 
do for Christ. Imagine yourself before Christ the King and see if you do 
not desire to respond to his call. Imagine yourself with Christ in the Garden 
and see if you don't desire to experience sorrow with Christ? In effect, 
Ignatius is telling the retreatant, "Try this on for size. See if it fits 
you and make it your own." 

We have all had the experience of suddenly discovering a new image or 
insight into ourselves. Some call these special moments "aha" experiences 
because the new images surprise us and yet we recognize them as coming from 
our own hearts. The Exercises promote "aha" experiences in our desires. 
In a climate of generosity we respond to the gospel passages by formulating 
new desires which are more and more authentic. And while we might find 
these desires challenging and even frightening, we recognize ourselves in 
them because they have been fashioned from the familiar, though inarticulate, 
longings of our own hearts. The Exercises tap our longings; they create 
something new by giving them concrete expression in the world we live in. 

Ignatius believed that our more authentic desires would be Christo- 
centric, and he hoped that we would deepen them to the fullest potential 


given by grace, nature, and present maturity. There is no "finish line" in 
the Exercises where we can say we "have arrived," Day by day we are asked 
to consider possibilities which are more and more Christocentric. "You 
desire to know Christ and to follow Him? Good! Now imagine a desire to 
suffer with Christ in his passion." "You desire to live so completely in 
Christ that you would not commit a single sin? Good! Now imagine a desire 
to suffer poverty, humiliations, and insults because this was the way Christ 
was treated." 

While desires are becoming more Christocentric, the structures of each 
day and eack week of the Exercises proceed from more subject matter to less 
subject matter, from the more general to the more concrete. The desire to 
follow Christ becomes a desire to follow Christ in this particular place and 
at this particular time. The desire to suffer with Christ becomes the desire 
to accept and receive this particular cross in this particular place and time. 
In the Exercises Ignatius picks up our authentic desires, he encourages us 
to make them more Christocentric, and he prompts us to insert them, practicall; 
in the world around us . 

In this context we must mention the famous phrase "the desire to have 

the desire." Some call this a "cop-out" for the timid, but in fact it 

represents Ignatius' practice in spiritual direction of doing everything 
possible to get people to put their best desires forward, even when the sup- 
portive feelings were missing. The desire to have the desire is a technique 
for imagining in ourselves attitudes or actions which we acknowledge to be 
good, but for which grace or courage have not yet been given. It directs 
our energies more to being receptive than to doing anything concrete, but 
the fact that they are directed is itself a first step. When it appeared 
that a Jesuit could not sincerely desire to suffer with Christ, Ignatius 
wanted him not to forget about it entirely but to keep the door open for the 
future. If he could at least desire to have the desire, he was making some 
investment of himself, and this investment already indicated spiritual progress 

The same technique can be applied to authentic desires which we once 
experienced but for which there remains nothing but dryness or a lack of 
enthusiasm. In this case Ignatius would direct us to remember the original 
desire in the hope that it would be rekindled, or at least that our efforts 
would reaffirm our original resolve. For example, we might have once desired 
a radical poverty but now find that the desire has gone. Desiring to desire 


that poverty again will not automatically bring back the feelings, but it 
will renew our determination to do something about it. The ingenuity behind 
these "desires-once-removed" is that we can have them whenever we want; unlike 
ordinary desires they do not depend on our feeling but only on our generosity 
and goodwill. 

C. Mortification 

We know that in the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius expected struggles 

between opposing desires to be the rule rather than the exception, and he 

was alarmed when they did not occur. The more sensitive we become to 

authentic desires, the more we become aware of inauthentic ones, many of 

which may heretofore have appeared benevolent or at worst neutral. While 

lying in his recovery bed at Castle Loyola, Ignatius himself came to realize 

that he could not simultaneously win fame and imitate Francis and Dominic. 

One of those desires had to give way. In the Exercises , the Meditation on 

the Three Classes provokes a similar crisis of awareness by placing in sharp 

relief the inconsistency of desiring to hold on to an attachment and at the 

same time desiring to do God's will. When the retreatants acknowledge 

the impossibility of such a situation, they are told to place all their 

energy into desiring God's will and acting against {agere contra) the attach- 

* 42 

Our willingness to engage in these struggles between opposing desires 

and fears makes up in large measure what Ignatius understood by mortification. 

This word has broad significance in the history of spirituality; and Ignatius 

certainly knew and approved of fasting, corporal penances, watches, and the 

ascetical aspects of the vows, but the mortification he valued above all 

others was the mortification of the will. On the road to Rouen, Ignatius 

mortified his fears of traveling barefoot and without food in order to act 

on his original strong desire to travel in just that manner. In Jerusalem 

he mortified his desire to stay in the holy city because he desired to do 

God's will which he unhesitatingly recognized in the decision of the Franciscan 

Guardian. Mortification seeks to diminish certain desires or fears, but 

only in order to free our energies to act on the desires of our choice. In 

Ignatius' mind a mortified Jesuit was happy and integrated: happy because 

he was acting on his authentic desires and integrated because he was able to 

give his energy in an undivided way. 


The unraortified Jesuit has fears and desires which are in such turmoil 
that he cannot put his energies anywhere. He desires to give himself in 
apostolic service, but he fears the cost; he desires to live the vows, but 
he desires family and independence as well; he desires happiness, but he 
refuses to surrender the hurts which he has accumulated along the way. Ig- 
natius called this paralyzing condition "tepidity" and he regarded it as one 

of the worst diseases of the spiritual life, for it robbed Jesuits of the 

cheerful vitality which he expected them to bring to the apostolate. 

The tepid or unmortified man has not disciplined his desires; he has been 

unwilling or unable to say "no" to some desires and fears in order to give 

a wholehearted "yes" to others. 

It is no wonder that Ignatius insisted strongly on the necessity for 

mortification in the lives of Jesuits. He once said that a mortified Jesuit 

could accomplish more in fifteen minutes of prayer than an unmortified could 

in two hours, because the mortified man could put more of his energies, more 

of himself, into his prayer. And not just prayer: "one energetic act is 

worth a thousand that are listless." Ignatius wanted Jesuits to act en- 
thusiastically on their authentic desires; he wanted them to trust that these 
desires came both from God and from their own hearts; and he wanted them to 
be confident that letting go of inauthentic desires and fears would lead to 
greater freedom and energy, and not to repression. 

The ascetical aspects of Ignatian mortification cannot be denied. 
Ignatius did not encourage a "sackcloth and ashes" attitude, but he did ask 
for an interior toughness with respect to our fears and desires. Still, he 
knew from his own experience- -especially from scruples --that nothing happens 
without grace. We must avoid two extremes. On the one hand, we need to be 
wary of the voluntarism which demands of us a hopeless and self-centered 
perfectionism; and, on the other hand, we need to resist the quietism which 
always presumes that hard choices can be delayed because we have not "ex- 
perienced" the support of overwhelming grace. If our authentic desires 
glorify God, then we patiently and hopefully wait for his grace to bring 
them to fulfillment. In the meantime, we cooperate with grace by desiring 
to have the authentic desires and by desiring to let conflicting desires 
die or be transformed. 

My favorite story about a Jesuit's journey from "unmortification" to 
happiness is Jerome Nadal's account of his conversion to Jesuit life. Nadal 


had first encountered Ignatius in Paris in 1535, but he had wanted to have 

nothing to do with either the saint or his companions . He returned to his 

home in Majorca and later left us this astonishing portrait of himself during 

the seven years he then spent there (1538-1545). 

. . . during the whole seven years I then spent at home I had 
not a single day, not a single hour--days? hours? what am I 
talking about?--not a single minute when I wasn't deeply anxious, 
fretful, and gloomy. I had perpetual headaches and stomach pains, 
and was in constant depression, to the point where all my friends 
were baffled and wondered if I hadn't turned misanthropic. I 
lived surrounded by doctors and medicines and was utterly un- 
bearable to myself. 9 

Even if we allow for hyperbole, this remarkable statement ought to give heart 

to any well-meaning religious who still finds misery a frequent companion. 

The journal goes on for several more pages, all in the same tone or worse! 

In 1545 Nadal finally went to Rome where he again came into contact 
with Ignatius and the Society. Admitting to himself that he had probably 
been fleeing a vocation, he made the Exercises. Seventeen days into the 
retreat, in despair over coming to a definite decision, he took pen and in 
the face of enormous repugnance he wrote out a promise to take vows in the 
Society of Jesus. "After this came not only an unbelievable spiritual con- 
solation but also physical restoration." 

Nadal 's story represents more than the ordinary amount of interior 
drama and turmoil, but it vividly portrays a man paralyzed for years by his 
own fears and conflicting desires, who finally, in one moment of real mortifi- 
cation, found a marvelous integration of energy and resolve, even to the dis- 
appearance of his physical difficulties. 


It is clear from the Constitutions and from his letters that Ignatius 
wanted all Jesuits to regard "holy" desires as graces to be deeply appreciated 
and actively sought. Three in particular he considered normative for a Jesuit 
vocation: a deep desire to be a Jesuit and live the life of the vows, a 
desire to have the desire to suffer with Christ, and a desire to help souls. 


A. Desire to be a Jesuit 

The General Examen- -that first application form for admission to the 
Society—carefully scrutinized each candidate's desire to be a religious and 
a Jesuit. The young man was asked if he truly wanted to live a life of the 
counsels. If his answer was affirmative, he was pressed further: "How much 
time has elapsed since his desire to leave the world and follow the counsels 
. . . began to come?" The interviewer then pursued the same questions with 
respect to the Society. Is the candidate determined to live and die a Jesuit? 
How long has he had this desire? Was he influenced by anyone in his decision? 
If so, he should wait for a while "so that he may be able to proceed with 

greater spiritual energies toward greater service and glory of the Divine 

Majesty." This thorough probing of desires assured the early Society of 

candidates capable of giving themselves generously and energetically to the 

formation and to the years of service which lay ahead. 

B. Desire for the Cross 

The General Examen also interrogated the candidate over the quality of 
his desire to identify with Christ, particularly Christ on the cross. Since 

it is characteristic of those progressing in the spiritual life "to wish to 

suffer injuries, false accusations, and affronts," candidates were asked 

if they had such desires. If a candidate did not have them, "he should be 

asked whether he has any desire to experience [these desires]." It is 

significant — and challenging for us today— that Ignatius considered this 
second desire a minimum for acceptance into the Society, for only with a 
positive response could the interview continue. "If he answers affirmatively 
that he does wish to have holy desires of this kind, then he should be ques- 
tioned further. ..." Ignatius does not tell us what to do if the candidate 
does not have such desires, but the implication is clear enough that such a 
man would not be suitable for the Society. 

C. Desire to Help Souls 

The third desire which Ignatius expected to find in any Jesuit was the 
desire to help souls. "But more than anything else," he wrote to the community 
at Coimbra, "I should wish to awaken in you the pure love of Jesus Christ, 
the desire for His honor and for the salvation of souls whom He has redeemed." 


Later in the same letter Ignatius told the scholastics that one of the ways 
that they could be of service to their neighbors during their studies "consists 

in holy desires and prayers. The demands of your life of study do not permit 

you to devote much time to prayer, yet you can make up for this by desires." 

The same thought appears in the Constitutions where Ignatius pointed out that 

"the neighbor is aided by desires in the presence of God our Lord." 

Even our prayer life is meant to be apostolic and ought to generate 
enthusiastic desires for the service of others. In a rather startling state- 
ment on Jesuit prayer, Nadal wrote that our "meditation and contemplation 

would seem to be wasted if they do not issue in petition and some devout 

desire." Prayer gives no refuge from the world, no psychological respite 

carved out "for the sake of delights or elevations of the mind," he wrote, 

but "the goal of [Jesuit] prayer [is] charity towards God and zeal for all 

souls, with a burning desire for the salvation and perfection of one's own 

soul and all other souls." Apostolic desires invigorate our service of 

others, and prayer generates desires. 

Desires filled the prayer of Pierre Favre, and he prized them especially 

for the energy they gave him for the apostolate. Sometimes, he wrote, "God 

makes us desire . . . the highest things so that we may at least accomplish 


without laziness and diffidence the more ordinary ones." ' Nadal hinted 

at this same potency in desires when he suggested that Jesuits ought to find 

in themselves the desire to do great penances such as Ignatius had performed, 

and even greater, in spite of the fact that it would be wrong for them to do 

ft ^ 
so! The energy of our desires, aroused by the highest and even unachievable 

goals, can nonetheless empower us to do the more ordinary things with greater 


A curious corollary to apostolic desires appears in the Constitutions ' 

mandate to all rectors, to the general, and, by extension, to all who exercise 

authority in the Society. "The function of the rector," Ignatius wrote in 

the section dealing with the government of colleges, "will be first of all 

to sustain the whole college by his prayer and holy desires." Likewise, 

the general of the Society will rule the Society most perfectly through his 

good example, through his love for the Society, and through "his prayer which 

is assiduous and full of desires." 

Ignatius called these "means which unite the human instrument with 

God and so dispose it that it may be wielded dexterously by His Divine hand." 


A rector can sustain the college through his holy desires because a holy 
desire is in some manner an experience of desiring to give glory to God. 
The rector tries to foster in himself a strong desire that the apostolate 
and the community of the college be for the greater honor and glory of God. 
Consequently, the rector must let the college and its spiritual and apostolic 
well-being precede private concerns in his own heart; and he must try to view 
the college from the perspective of its role in the history of salvation 
rather than as an investment for his own ego. Ignatius expected to find 
authentic public desires in the hearts of those who exercise authority in 
the Society. 

D. Desire and Obedience 

In his famous letter to the Jesuits in Portugal, Ignatius told the 
scholastics that although he certainly hoped for them an excellence in all 
virtues, "it is in obedience more than any other virtue that God our Lord 
gives me the desire to see you signalize yourselves." ' Is there a link 
between desire and Ignatian obedience? Clearly, one can expect certain 
desires in people who wish to become Jesuits, but is it reasonable, even 
possible, to expect that a Jesuit could come to desire a command, or a mission, 
given by another? 

Ignatius not only believed that this was possible, but he expected that 
as a matter of course Jesuits would place their full energies at the service 
of their missions, energies which could be fully activated only if the Jesuit 
himself could desire the mission or command which he had been given. He ex- 
pressed this expectation on a number of occasions. In the Constitutions a 
speaking about the entire Society and its mission, he wrote that "the Society 
has placed its own judgment and desire under that of Christ our Lord, and 
his Vicar." In the letter to the Jesuits of Portugal cited above, he 
pointed out that the perfection of obedience "consists in obeying with love 

and cheerfulness." However, he went on, "one cannot obey lovingly and cheer- 

fully as long as [some] repugnance exists." " Ignatius asked that a Jesuit 

give himself so entirely to his mission that he could make a superior's command 

into the object of his own desires; only in this way could he obey lovingly 

and cheerfully. 

The linkage of desire and obedience betrays the public nature of our 

more authentic desires. However personal and individualized our desires 


may be--and they certainly are--they ultimately reach their full flower by 
reference to the corporate body of the People of God. If the discovery of 
desires is a discovery of self, it is also a discovery of community; for the 
deepest and most authentic desires not only lead out of the self but they 
bind us to others. While Ignatius had no elaborate theory of desires, he 
certainly understood that in the final analysis our desires and the energy 
they give are at the service of others. This was the case in his own life, 
and he expected it to be the case in the lives of all Jesuits. 

Within the crucible of obedience, our desires undergo the same stretching 
and transformation on the corporate level that they do in the Exercises. Once 
again the particular instruments are imagination and mortification. The mis- 
sions we are given often prove to be invitations to desire something which 
we might not previously have imagined ourselves desiring. They are images 
of new possibilities. And these very same missions can also be invitations 
to mortify other desires. Ordinarily our missions come through dialogue and 
discernment; we no longer live in the day when July 31 meant a gulp and quick 
packing! However, the very dialogue suggests a tentative offering of our 
private desires for public service, and it also suggests that those private 
desires might be changed or otherwise reshaped during the exchange. Through 
our vow of obedience we invite the community to engage with us in a selection 
of which desires we will enhance and which ones we will mortify, and in this 
selection we cede a certain primacy to the community and its superiors. 

Ignatian obedience demands great spiritual and psychological maturity 
because through this vow we allow the community to influence the ways in 
which we channel something so deeply personal as the energy and enthusiasm 
generated by our desires. Everything in our culture resists obedience, for 
we are made to fear that any loss of control over self -fulfillment is a loss 
of self. Obedience, on the other hand, testifies to our faith that God is 
not distant but actively present in human community. As Jesuits we believe 
that our most authentic desires will be discovered and fulfilled only through 
collaboration with others, whereas our culture professes that desires must 
be hidden and protected from others. 

At a recent liturgy I heard the Jesuit celebrant announce to his 
community that he would soon be leaving to teach at a difficult post in a 
foreign country. In a delightful and edifying way he told how he had taken 
it upon himself to propose to the provincial that he step down from his present 


work and perhaps take up a pastoral assignment. To his surprise the provincial 
came back with the suggestion that he think about responding to a great need 
somewhere else in the world. He did, and now he is destined for a different 
country and culture. 

This man took the generosity of his desires to the provincial with 
particular images in mind. He came away with an image which could not have 
come entirely from himself, and he was able to desire this new thing. Obedience 
stimulated his imagination. Obviously, there must be some sadness at leaving 
old friends and familiar places; and there might even be some sadness at not 
being able to do what he originally had proposed to the provincial. That is 
mortification. One thing was clear, however, as we listened to this remarkable 
homily: in front of us was a happy, energetic man. 


Western culture both applauds and scorns desires. On the one hand, the 
media feed us a constant diet of appealing stimuli: consumer items, status, 
and even a secure brand of happiness are all packaged, presented, and peddled 
as desirables. We are encouraged to have an impossible number of needs and 
to expect to satisfy them all: "At the very least you deserve the very 
best!" Desires are multiplied; they are seldom mortified. On the other 
hand, we live in an age which has been called the age of despair. Desires 
to feed the hungry, desires to find love and meaning in permanent commitment, 
and desires to work for a peace built on justice elicit the cynical labels 
of "soft-headed" or "unreal." How strange to think that infinite happiness 
can be promised in the purchase of a new car, yet a significant number of 
young people do not believe that a nuclear war can be avoided during their 
lifetime. It would appear that when it comes to the superficial we desire 
too much, but when it comes to those more profound desires of the human heart 

we have lost all hope. C. S. Lewis prophesied against this generation when 

he said that God finds our desires too weak! 

In this final section I will offer a few reflections about desire in 

our Jesuit lives today. None of them are original; they flow quite naturally 

from our Ignatian heritage, especially as described in the three previous 

sections. However, it is worth spotlighting some of the more life-giving 

aspects of our tradition against the enervating backdrop of this century's 

narcissism and despair. 


First Reflection: We should not be afraid of our desires. This may 
sound strange, but we ought not be too hasty in assuming that the contrary 
is true. Our more authentic desires nearly always involve some risk, for 
they take us into places and situations where we would rather not go. Natural 
fears and cultural discouragement cause us to err on the side of prudence 
rather than zeal. In fact, not only can we be too quick to reject our more 
challenging desires, but we can learn in time to deaden that part of ourselves 
from which such desires flow. We do not want to "conceive great resolves and 
elicit equally great desires," and yet the paradox is that we do! A Jesuit 
friend told me that for several years he had been flirting, at the back of his 
consciousness, with the desire to live a more radical trust. Only in recent 
years, however, had he found the courage to entertain that desire seriously 
and concretely; and the relief and the newfound energy have transformed him. 
He sleeps better, he works harder, he worries less, and the most positive 
sign of all: he is much happier. 

Not every desire is from God, nor can all seemingly "holy" desires be 
acted upon, but perhaps we too easily dismiss as unrealistic or inopportune 
those fleeting moments when we find ourselves yearning to make our commitment 
to Christ more concrete or profound. When fear rules our desires, we live in 
contradiction with ourselves because this existential timidity condemns us to 
that debilitating frustration of doing the things we do not want to do and not 
doing the things we want to do. This is an infallible recipe for a bitter man 

Second Reflection: We should actively and creatively seek to deepen 
our desires and to make them more concrete. Ignatius really did not expect 
that we would all want to imitate Christ in actual poverty, insults, and 
humility; but he did expect that we would actively seek to foster such de- 
sires in ourselves. In other words, we ought to pray frequently, and as 
sincerely as possible, that we might experience in ourselves a desire for 
the third degree of humility. The same applies for other "Jesuit" desires. 
Out of a sense of responsibility to ourselves and to those we serve, we 
ought to do everything in our power not only to keep alive but also to in- 
tensify our desire to help souls--a desire which today we would call a desire 
for the service of faith and the promotion of justice. It is totally in- 
adequate to say, "I don't find that desire in myself, at least very strongly." 
Ignatius would respond, "By virtue of your vocation you must try to generate 
a desire for faith and justice in yourself by all means possible." We recall 


here Nadal's comment on prayer. A Jesuit's experience of prayer ought to lead 
him to petition, so that we end prayer with desires: desires which reflect 
our mission as Jesuits and desires which are the fruit of the prayer itself. 

Third Reflection', Mortification can make you happy. We need to hear 
again just how important Ignatius considered mortification. So much of our 
energy is bound up by conflicting desires which tend to cancel each other 
out. The mortified Jesuit honestly acknowledges such conflicts in himself, 
and he tries to let go of those desires which seem inauthentic in order that 
the more authentic ones may flourish. Certainly this is no easy task; it 
requires humble self- reflection and patient hope in God's grace, but without 
mortification we will never give ourselves energetically to a pursuit of our 
deepest desires. Really, the mortified Jesuit is a man who does what he 
really wants to do: he is happy. 

Fourth Reflection: Courage will make you even happier. As we saw from 
the life of Ignatius, a Jesuit ought to be more prepared to act on his au- 
thentic desires than to suppress them. Ignatius warned that we lose the 

graces which God gives us if we do not respond, and courage empowers us to 

respond. We need not all be bold personalities. Ignatius gathered men 

around him who did not appear to be especially lionhearted, and he turned 

them into great apostles and saints. Courage grows through use, and if we 

persist in taking our desires seriously we will inevitably find ourselves 

emboldened at some time to act. The timid soul who first breaks down the 

blockage of fear and puts authentic desires into action will find not only 

a deeper assimilation to Christ but also the exhilaration which active 

courage provides for ever new desires and deeds. This applies not simply 

to Jesuits as individuals but also to our communities, our provinces, and 

perhaps even the whole Society. Courage is contagious. 

Fifth Reflection: We will be unhappy men unless we make the life and 
the mission of the Society our own. I believe that most Jesuits really do 
desire the life and the mission of the Society, at least in their heart of 
hearts. I realize, too, that this life and mission are often fraught with 
real difficulties and ambiguities, and I admit that there is plenty of room 
even in a saintly Jesuit's life for an abundance of "legitimate misery." 
Yet we have a lot of misery which is not so legitimate, misery which comes 
from always fighting against being who and what we are. 

When a man is thinking about a vocation to the Society, and while he is 


a novice, we want him to consider very carefully what he is doing. However, 
there comes a time when it is necessary to put aside the paralysis of looking 
over our shoulders, and this step requires a certain mature courage and 
mortification. The man who continually laments the fact that he never got 
married, who can never give himself without complaining to the apostolate 
to which the province has assigned him, or who always despises the community 
for falling short of his expectations is a man in conflict with himself. He 
has been unable or unwilling to choose one desire over another and to stick 
with that choice. He has never chosen to make the life and mission of the 
Society his own. 

Sixth Reflection: We need to take the regular examen and the annual 
manifestation seriously. These are the most valuable Ignatian techniques 
for unleashing the energy latent in our desires. Two questions always worth 
asking ourselves in the examen are: (1) What am I desiring? and (2) What do 
I desire to desire? The first helps us to know the directions which our 
affectivity has taken that day. We will know what desires we are presently 
experiencing, and we will know the conflicts which those desires present. 
We will also begin to distinguish between desires which appear to glorify 
God and those which tend to alienate us from ourselves. Sometimes just 
trying to answer that simple question demands the most painful honesty. 
The second question puts the desires of the day into the context of our 
broader histories, both past and future. With respect to the past, asking 
what we desire to desire keeps alive in our hearts those good desires which 
we may have experienced once but which have grown cold. By recalling them 
and wishing their return we continue to build on the graces of our pasts and 
we strengthen whatever resolve or deterimination they may have given us. 
Looking to the future, the desire to have a desire gives us a chance to 
break out of spiritual stagnation by trying out desires we may once have 
thought to be the exclusive property of saints. It gives us the chance to 
dream, and we need to dream if we are to stay spiritually and apostolically 

The manifestation provides the public context for our desires. Just 
to speak my desires to another human being means that I am taking them 
seriously, and if human respect means anything, it is also the beginning 
of a commitment to act on them. When that other human being happens to be 
the provincial, it means that I am offering my desires for the corporate mission 


of the Society. Too often we are overly cautious in manifesting our desires 
to the provincial because we fear that he might take them more seriously 
than we do. I doubt that this is the kind of attitude that Ignatius had in 
mind, and it will only result in division within ourselves. 

The spiritual and religious life of the Society of Jesus is not well- 
defined by rule and cloister. We need men who have internalized our spirit 
and who have the inner resources, including courage, to put that spirit into 
action. Ignatius considered it of the utmost importance that Jesuits be men 
of great desires and that they should continually foster these desires in 
prayer. He wanted us to have a strong desire to live this life; he wanted 
us to desire to be identified with Christ as closely as possible even to the 
point of desiring to experience the poverty, insults, and humiliations that 
Christ experienced; and he wanted us to have a strong desire to work for the 
salvation and progress of souls. He wanted us to be mature enough to place 
our desires and the energies they give us at the service of the corporate 
body, and he wanted us to have the courage and the self-discipline to mortify 
desires which dissipate our own or the Society's energies. He looked for 
signs of these attitudes in the men who came to him for entrance into the 
Society, and he expected that the formed Jesuit would actively seek to 
maintain and deepen them. 

Perhaps no more eloquent testimony to the place of desire in our 
spirituality can be found than Ignatius' inclusion of the word in our 
formula for first vows. "Moved with a desire of serving You," the Jesuit 
begins his profession; and asking God to receive his vows he concludes, 

"just as You gave me the grace to desire and offer this, so You will bestow 

abundant grace to fulfill it." 


ABBREVIATIONS Used in the Footnotes 

Autobiog The Autobiography of St. Ignatius Loyola 

Citations are from the translation by Joseph F. 
O'Callaghan, S.J., edited by John C. Olin 

Cons St. Ignatius of Loyola, The Constitutions of the Society 

of Jesus. Translated, with an Introduction and a 
Commentary, by George E. Ganss, S.J. 

Epplgn Sti. Ignatii Epistolae et Ins true tiones. 12 volumes in MHSJ 

FN Fontes narrativi de S. Ignatio de Loyola. 4 volumes in MHSJ 

Letterslgn Letters of St. Ignatius. Translated by William J. Young, S.J. 

LettersWom Saint Ignatius Loyola. Letters to Women, by Hugo Rahner, S.J. 

Translated from German by Kathleen Pond and S.A.H. Weetman 

MonNad Epistolae et Monumenta P. Hieronymi Nadal. 6 volumes in MHSJ 

SpEx The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius 

Citations are from the translation by Louis J. Puhl, S.J. 

Note: In all references to the Autobiography and to Ignatius' 
letters I have given the location both in the Monumenta 
Historica Societatis Iesu and in the English translation. 

1 Catherine of Siena, The Dialogues. Translation and Introduction by Suzanne 
Noffke, O.P. (New York, 1980), p. 25. 

2 Ibid., p. 270. 

3 "A conscious impulse or movement toward an object or experience which 
promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment" [Webster's New 
International Dictionary, 2nd edition, unabridged [Springfield, 1959]). 

4 The differentiation between the "true self" (the self known and loved by 
God) and the "false self" (the protective, self -centered shell which we 
build around ourselves) is the central image in the writings of Thomas 
Merton, and because of his popularity they have become common in the 
vocabulary of contemporary spirituality. For Merton' s explanation of 
these terms, see Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (New York, 
1962), pp. 29-36. 

5 SpEx, the rules for the discernment of spirits, especially [315, 316, 329, 
330, 331, and 336]. Just as discernment is often a groping and fallible 
process, we similarly find it difficult to know clearly our deeper 
desires and to distinguish them from those which are less authentic. 

6 The danger for self-deception is great, and we need to test our desires, 

and our interpretation of them, in the more objective forum of the community, 

7 Jeronimo Nadal, Platicas Espirituales del P. Jeronimo Nadal, S.I. en 
Coimbra (1561), edited, with an introduction and notes, by Miguel 


Nicolau, S.J. (Granada, 1945), p. 63, Translation mine. 

8 Autobiogj no. 1, in FN 1, 364; p. 21 in O'Callaghan's translation. 

9 Ibid., nos. 6-9, in FN, I, 370-374; and in O'Callaghan (hereafter 
abbreviated 0' Call) , pp. 23-24. 

10 Epplgrij III, p. 543; translation from Letterslgrij p. 245. 

11 Autobiogj no. 1, in FN I, 364; also in nos. 9, 10, 12 (twice), 14, 

15 (twice), 27, 35, 46, 47 (twice), 55, 71 (twice), and 79 (twice). An 
additional text which does not use deseo but which has the same sense is 
from no. 11: ". . . un muy grande esfuergo para servir a nuestro Senor 
. . ."; translation by O'Call, p. 25: "... a very great desire to serve 
our Lord. . ." 

12 Autobiogj no. 79 in FN, I, 470; O'Call, p. 25. 

13 Ibid., nos. 9, 47 (twice), 55, 71, 79 (twice); respectively in O'Call, 
pp. 24, 50, 51, 60, 71 (twice), and 76 (twice). 

14 Epplgrij I, 102; Letterslgrij p. 20. 

15 Epplgrij II, 303; LettersWom, p. 160. 

16 Epplgrij II, 236; Letters Igrij p. 181. 

17 Autobiogj no. 9, in FN 3 I, 374, O'Call, p. 24; no. 11, O'Call, p. 25; 

no. 14, in FN, I, 382--the text here reads "con grandes deseos de servirle 
en todo lo que conociese," which I have chosen to translate: "with great 
desires to serve [Christ] in every way he knew." This differs slightly 
from translation in O'Call, p. 30: "greatly desirous of serving Him in 
every way he knew." 

18 This was Ignatius' way of wishing someone well in the spiritual life. He 
meant it seriously, but it was still a general wish or desire. For ex- 
ample, in the opening paragraph of his letter on obedience: "It gives 

me great consolation, my dear brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ, when I 
learn of the lively and earnest desires for perfection in His divine 
service and glory which He gives you, who by His mercy has called you 
to this Society and preserves you in it . . ." {Epplgn 3 IV, p. 670; 
Letterslgrij p. 287). 

19 As he did to Bartholomew Romano: "This disquiet comes from within and 
not from without. I mean your lack of humility, obedience, and prayer, 
your slight mortification, in a word your little fervor in advancing 

in the way of perfection. . . . Every month write me a few lines on 
how you are getting on with your humility, obedience, prayer, and the 
desire for perfection" (Epplgrij VIII, pp. 328-329; Letterslgrij p. 363). 

20 SpExj [315] . This desire is also expressed in the prayer which Ignatius 
assumed that any retreatant would readily assent to at the beginning of 
each meditation in the Exercises 3 [46]: "that all my intentions, actions, 
and operations may be directed purely to the praise and service of His 
Divine Majesty." 

21 Autobiogj no. 9, in FN, I, 374; O'Call, p. 24. 

22 SpEx, [167]. 

23 "The fact is — and God our Lord, who is my Creator and judge, will be 


my witness--that not for all the power and wealth under heaven could I 
wish not to have gone through this experience. It is my desire to have 
as much and ever more to suffer in the future for the greater glory of 
His Divine Majesty" {Epplgn s I, 297; Letterslgn, p. 81). 

24 Cons, [102]. 

25 Autobiog, no. 47; O'Call, p. 50. 

26 Ibid., no. 42; O'Call, p. 55. 

27 Epplgn, I, p. 297; Letterslgn, p. 81. See also footnote 23 above. 

28 "After he [Ignatius] had labored for some time with the matter we consider 
proper to the First Week, the Lord moved him ahead and he began to meditate 
over the life of Christ our Lord, finding devotion in these meditations 
and a desire to imitate our Lord. At this same time he experienced a 
desire to help his neighbor and so he conversed and talked to those with 
whom he was able" {FN, II, 190. Translation mine). 

29 Epplgn, I, 100; Letterslgn, p. 19. 

30 Ibid., 162; Letterslgn, p. 160. 

31 Ibid., II, 303; LettersWom 3 p. 160. See footnote 15 above. 

32 Camara, Memoriale, no. 182, in FN, I, 638. Translation mine. 

33 "A German novice was sorely tempted and about to leave. After our Father 
had exhausted other approaches, he asked the novice to wait for three or 
four days, and during that time he was not obliged to keep the rules or 
to obey anyone. He was to do whatever he wanted, getting up when he 
wanted and eating at whatever time he desired; and our Father gave in- 
structions to this effect to the Minister. The novice, with this freedom 
and gentle treatment, was so dumbfounded that he remained in the Society" 
{FN, II, 482-483. Translation mine) . 

34 Autobiog, no. 42, in FN, I, 418; O'Call, pp. 47-48. 

35 While many saints spoke eloquently about desires in the spiritual life, 
Ignatius' uniqueness was to provide a "schooling" for desires. 

36 Epplgn, III, 543; Letterslgn, p. 245. 

37 William F. Lynch, S.J., Images of Hope (Notre Dame, 1974), p. 23. 

38 SpEx 3 [48]. In the Spanish, "lo que quiero y deseo." Obras Completas 
de S. Ignacio de Loyola, with introductions and notes by Ignacio Iparra- 
guirre, S.J. (Madrid, 1963), p. 210. 

39 Cons, [102]. 

40 SpEx, [6]. 

41 Ibid., [149-155]. 

42 Ibid., [157]; see also [16]. 

43 "If you have a great desire of mortification, use it rather in breaking 
your wills and bringing your judgments under the yoke of obedience rather 
than in weakening your bodies and afflicting them beyond due measure" 
{Epplgrij I, 507; Letterslgn, p. 128). 

44 Autobiog, no. 79; O'Call, p. 76. 


45 Ibid., nos. 46-47; O'Call, p. 76. 

46 "Experience proves that in this life peace and satisfaction are had, 
not by the listless, but by those who are fervent in God's service. And 
rightly so. For in the effort they make to overcome themselves and to 
rid themselves of self-love, they rid themselves of the roots of all 
passion and unrest. And with the acquirement of habits of virtue they 
naturally succeed in acting easily and cheerfully in accordance with 
these virtues. ... On the other hand, tepidity is the cause of a life- 
time of uneasiness, for we never get rid of its cause, which is self-love" 
{Epplgn, I, 500; Letterslgn, pp. 124-125). 

47 "On the 22nd of November, when Father Nadal told our Father about the 
hour andahalf of prayer which he had allowed in Spain, Father Ignatius 
replied that never would he change his opinion that one hour was enough 
for scholastics, presupposing, of course, abnegation and mortification, 
which makes it easier for a mortified man to accomplish more in fifteen 
minutes of prayer than an unmortified man in two hours" (Camara, Memcriale, 
no. 256, in FN, I, 676-677; translation from Joseph Conwell, Contemplation 
in Action [Spokane, 1957], p. 6). 

48 Epplgn, I, 499; Letterslgn, p. 123. 

49 McnNad, I, 5-6. Translation mine. I am grateful to Martin Palmer, S.J., 
for unpublished translations which he has made of some of Nadal' s works. 
These have been very helpful to me in translating the texts of Nadal for 
this study. I will continue to indicate Palmer's contributions regarding 
translations wherever appropriate, although I must own any inaccuracies 
that may appear. 

50 Ibid., 18. Translation mine with help from Palmer. 

51 Cons, [50]. 

52 Ibid., [51]. 

53 Ibid., [101]. 

54 Ibid., [102]. 

55 Ibid., [102]. 

56 Epplgn, I, 501; Letterslgn, p. 124. 

57 Ibid., 509; Letterslgn 3 p. 129. 

58 Cons, [638]. 

59 MonNad, V, 29. Translation mine with help from Palmer. 

60 Ibid., IV, 674. Translation mine with help from Palmer. 

61 Ibid., 673. Translation mine with help from Palmer. 

62 Pierre Favre, Memorial, no. 155. Cited from Brian O'Leary, S.J., 
"The Discernment of Spirits in the Memorial of Blessed Peter Favre," 
{The Way Supplement, no, 35, 1979, p, 58). 

63 "At that time Ignatius was excessive in his penances which we should not 
imitate. Our Lord permitted this in order that Ignatius might learn from 
his experience and so that we might have some guidelines. However, all 


in the Society should desire to do as much as Ignatius did, and even 
more, as long as we let ourselves be governed in this regard by the 
judgment of the superior" (Nadal, Adhortationes Complutenses , no. 7, 
in FN, II, 191. Translation mine). 

64 Cons, [424] . 

65 Ibid., [790]. 

66 Ibid., [813]. 

67 Epplgn, IV, 670-671; Letterslgn, pp. 287-288. 

68 Cons, [606]. 

69 Epplgn, IV, 676; Letterslgn, p. 292. 

70 "Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering 
nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord 
finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted 
creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite 

joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud 
pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of 
a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased" (C. S. Lewis, 
"The Weight of Glory," from Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces 
[London, 1965], pp. 94-95). 

71 "Not only does man set up these obstacles before receiving these graces, 
gifts, and consolations of the Holy Spirit, but even after he has received 
them; graces of consolation in which all darkness and restless worry are 
removed from the soul, and the soul itself is adorned with the spiritual 
blessings that bring it contentment and cause it to fall in love with the 
things that continue in endless glory. Even then we allow ourselves to 

be distracted with thoughts about trifles, without knowing how to keep 
so heavenly a blessing. In fact, we set up obstacles before our Lord 
lavished His graces upon us and after He has done so, with the result 
that we fail to retain them" (Epplgn, I, 340. Letterslgn, p. 84). 

72 Cons, [540]. 


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This volume gathers the chief texts on the 
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"The book contains, the Director of the 
Apostlcship wrote, "pastoral orientations on 
the spirituality of the Heart of Christ, an ample 
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To those interested in the spirituality of 
the Heart of Christ, this book will bring heart- 
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Especially since St. Margaret Mary Alacoque 
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lo his Heart as the symbol of his love. By decrees 
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Especially when viewed against that histori- 
cal background, the Texts in this book reveal 
many interesting aspects of Fr. Arrupe's 
attitude on this devotion, such a> these: 

1. Through his contagious enthusiasm and 
his warm personal sharing of so much of his 
interior life, he reveals how intensely devoted 

he himself has always been to the Heart of 
Christ (see, e.g., Texts 2, 8, 10, II, 17). 

2. He also continually encouraged Jesuits 
and others to practice and promote this devotion 
of response of love to Christ (sec Texts 1, 3, 1 1 , 1 7 

3. Yet his experience taught him that the 
devotion was in his day declining and even meet- 
ing with antipathy, which he regarded as 
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5. He searched constantly for strategies which 
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6. He thought that theological exploration 
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able devotion, and would be a chief means to 
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He himself gave an example of such updating 
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7. These aims and endeavors were more and 
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8. Hence this collection of texts can itself 
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9. Finally, a reader sees why Fr. Karl 
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the Society's traditional mission to foster this 
devotion] demands a creative fidelity that may 
revitalize it. 1 his demands re-thinking it 
theologically and pastorally. It Arrupe has 
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